Ideal MacPro for professional photographer?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by hispanicboy, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. hispanicboy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2010
    #1
    I shoot about 40 weddings per year. (2500-3000 images per week). I am currently working off a 2 x2.66 Dual Core MacPro with 11GB of memory. I use Aperture and a bit of Final Cut Pro.

    I need the MacPro for storage issues related to iTunes and photo libraries so I have ruled out an iMac. My question is, when will I cross the "overkill" line. I don't spend my days doing intensive 3D render outputs of math computations so I know a 12 core is "too much".

    Should I grab a 2009 Quad core 2.66 Refurb or just spend the extra on the new baseline MacPro. I could probably swing the cash on the 8-core (3499) but am wondering at what point I'm just waiting cycles.

    The other factor I see is the new machines have the 1Gig video card and the 09's have the 512 card.

    Finally, other than "boot time" would I see much benefit in workflow by having an SSD drive as my start up disk. My Aperture library would still have to be on another SATA drive due to size.

    Any advice.
     
  2. StofUnited macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #2
    I am not a photographer but in my research to learn about Mac Hardware - I came across this guy who seems to have done large amounts of research on the topic from the perspecitve of being a prof. photo dude. It will be worth your time to check out Lloyd L. Chambers stuff:

    http://macperformanceguide.com/index.html

    http://diglloyd.com/
     
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #3
    Hi there... most of my use these days is photo managing and adjustments (primarily in Aperture) so perhaps I can help.

    I have a 2009 2.93 Quad Core with 6GB of RAM with a mix of SSD's and HD's for storage.

    I have found this setup ideal, without being much overkill for Aperture. I think you would find it similarly powerful for Lightroom if that's your preferred software.

    For CPU, you could probably get by with 2.66GHz without suffering too much. 4 Cores is plenty. At the most, I've observed Aperture using 500-600% CPU (2-3 cores).

    For Memory, I wouldn't get less than 6GB and wouldn't spend more. My page-outs are very minimal and this is working with several hundred 25MB RAW image libraries. I seldom see my free memory dip below 1.5GB with iTunes, Aperture, and Safari open at the same time.

    For GPU, apparently Aperture is effective at using OpenGL functions on the GPU to accelerate some processing. I'm not sure how extensive this use of the GPU is and/or what the performance impact is. I personally run dual GT120's (one to drive each of my 24" LED displays) and the performance doesn't suffer, but I have no idea how it might improve with a better GPU. I haven't seen any Aperture benchmarks to help enlighten me.

    For storage, I run 240GB of SSD storage and it's currently enough to contain my OS, Apps, Aperture library and my iTunes library... everything is blindingly fast with the SSDs. Loading up an Aperture library is instantaneous.

    I think you have a few options depending on your workflow and budget:

    1. You could do what I do and archive the full contents of the camera memory cards to a large conventional HD and then import photos from there into the photo library which could be stored on the SSD if you keep your photo library small by using one library per shoot or one per month... whatever keeps it's size down without adding too much overhead to your workflow. Aperture supports multiple libraries very easily so you can swap between last months library archived on your HD and this months' library stored on your SSD very quickly. Every month or shoot or whatever, you just move the recent library to the HD and start a new one on the SSD. That way, your working images are always on the SSD, but you're not utilizing that expensive storage for archival... you're leaving that to a conventional HD.

    2. If an SSD just isn't in the cards for you based on budget or workflow, then a couple of fast large drives such as 1TB Caviar Blacks running in software RAID0 would be another good option. You wouldn't need to partition your photo library and you would still have a fast storage solution.

    In either case, I would add another drive for backups.

    BTW, I use this same workstation for HD video editing in FCP sometimes, and honestly, Aperture is more demanding than FCP on the hardware which is certainly due to the fact that FCP hasn't been optimized much at all for 64-bit, multi-threading, and GPU acceleration.
     
  4. johnnymg macrumors 65816

    johnnymg

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #4
    I'd recommend waiting until the 09's start showing up in the refurb store in mass. That should hopefully be no more than a week or two after the 2010 release. Just a WAG but I'm thinking the 09 2.93GHz Quad might be the sweet spot in the refurb lineup. We'll see....................

    The other obvious option is just going with the 2.8GHz 2010. That model will have WAY more power than you need and it will have the newest firmware so it will "last" the longest.

    I just wish Apple would release the dang upgrade prices now ~~~~~ :mad:
    cheers
    JohnG
     
  5. bobpensik macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #5
    Awesome website, they have some pre-configured Mac Pro's you can buy too. They look like awesome machines

    http://mpgphotoworkstation.com/
     
  6. SnoFlo macrumors regular

    SnoFlo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    #6
    Thanks to VirtualRain for that write-up. I hadn't thought of SSDs for the Aperture library; I must try that.
     
  7. Richard Peters macrumors regular

    Richard Peters

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Location:
    Surrey, UK
    #7
    Interesting post as I've been thinking along the same lines. Reading those links makes me think a 4 core would be the way to go right now...BUT I wonder if thinking long term would make more sense as you wuold hope Photoshop etc will eventually be coded to make use of more cores?

    Also, I am starting to do video editing and once the Nikon D4 comes out I would hope that I'll be editing 1080p video files, so the more power and RAM the better in the long run...:confused:
     
  8. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #8
    I believe that the biggest unrealized performance gains in image editing and video production lie in better leveraging the GPU. It has hundreds of cores ideally suited to image manipulation tasks. So while optimizing apps for 8 core processors might double performance, optimizing for OpenCL might have an order of magnitude improvement or more.

    Thus my advice is not to tie up money in CPU cores you can't fully utilize today, and instead get a decent high clock Quad core with the anticipation that you may benefit most by periodically upgrading your GPU.
     
  9. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #9
    While everything that VirtualRain mentioned above was spot on I just wanted to add that whatever setup you go for make sure to get at least one large hard drive for backup purposes (e.g. for use with Time Machine). While SSDs are on the whole very reliable, I got a dud one that failed after two weeks and had to be replaced. I don't keep data on my SSD though, just system and apps, so it wasn't too much of a problem but if it were user data I'd have been screwed - I've got several data recovery apps but none that work with a non starting SSD. Raid 0 is incredibly risky for permanently storing work related data on. I was uneducated and wet behind the ears when I created my first RAID array - a striped one at that. About six months later one of the drives failed and all my data was lost and was unrecoverable with my data recovery apps.

    My advice, get an SSD (preferable) or a RAID setup with a couple of fast drives with a 2TB energy saver drive as a Time Machine backup drive.

    In terms of the raw computer, I don't really see the 4 core as a good buy. Ignoring the value for money issues etc, my biggest concern would be the limited number of RAM slots. The machine is in many ways a lower grade machine than your existing Mac Pro (less physical CPUs and less RAM slots). I'd suggest you look at how your RAM and CPU usage has increased over the years since you bought your current Mac Pro and whether the 4 core would give you the same comfortable longevity.
     
  10. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2010
    #10
    On the RAM slots....do we know if 8GB dimms will work? Expensive now, but that would give the quad 32GB which seems a lot more future proof than 16GB.

    I'm leaning towards the Hex 3.33.....before finding out the price anyway.... I'd be more inclined to get the lowest end Octa solution if I thought I could do a processor upgrade down the line..not sure if any of the forthcoming 8 core chips will fit in this socket?
     
  11. Raytrace macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    #11
  12. Madvillain Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #12

    How many cores does Photoshop use? I've been trying to find this for a while now.
     
  13. Richard Peters macrumors regular

    Richard Peters

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Location:
    Surrey, UK
    #13
    The trouble is though, I only want to be spending £2.5k or so on a computer every three or four years if I can help it (that's how long my last computer lasted before it was no longer good enough, I'm now using a MBP until I get a new desktop).

    That's why I'm leaning towards the 8, because with the aim of keeping it say four years or so the 8 is bound to be more useful long term than the 4, as I can also upgrade the GPU in that.

    Although I might be wrong! lol.
     
  14. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #14
    I understand. I tend to buy computers that cost around $3k every 2 years. Some people prefer to buy a $5k computer every 4 years. While the long term outlay in both cases is similar, with more frequent updates, I feel I'm spending more of my ownership in the sweet spot. I mean, 4 years from now, who knows what's going to make a decent performing computer? The ideal computer in 4 years could be a 5ghz dual core with 4 high-end GPUs?! Personally, trying to buy a future-proof computer seems like folly to me... They just obsolete too quickly, but everyone's situation is different.
     
  15. Richard Peters macrumors regular

    Richard Peters

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Location:
    Surrey, UK
    #15
    Fair comment! I think I'll just wait and see what the prices are, with RAM upgrades etc when they appear on the store. Maybe a more spec'd up quad would be a better solution...hmmm decicions...
     
  16. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    #16
    I'm shooting with a 5D2 and a 1D3, with the 5D2 kicking out 21mp images in RAW. My main editing workstation is a 2009 2.93Ghz Quad with 6GB of RAM and the ATi 4870 - and it is great for Aperture.

    I also have a 2008 2.8 Octo, and there is no noticeable difference between the speed of the two systems in Aperture on a day to day basis - so I would argue that going for a 2010 Octo would be a waste of cash, as Aperture isn't going to use all eight cores effectively. I would rather spend that cash on storage upgrades, a better GPU for acceleration (which Aperture does use) and potentially a faster clock on the CPU.

    As mentioned above, the Achilles Heel of the Quads is the number of RAM slots. However, I find that 6GB is actually a decent amount for Aperture, though I will be upping to 8GB (2GB in each slot) shortly. In time as RAM prices drop I may look at swapping out to 4GB DIMMs - but this isn't high on my priority list. All that said, I'm seeing very few Page Outs anyway...


    So, my recommendation would also be a high-clock speed single CPU system - even the Hexacore if you can afford it. 6-8GB of RAM will be enough for Aperture, and then there is the SSD upgrade route to follow over time.
     
  17. qaq macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    #17
    get a good storage solution

    In working with large media collections storage is a way bigger bottleneck then CPU a RAID 10 setup with 600Gb velociraptors can be 5-6 times faster then stock HD. I'd opt for external storage solution that will not really get outdated
    soon as opposed to playing the CPU game.
     
  18. hispanicboy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2010
    #18
    great feedback everyone. looking forward to the new machine whatever i get. any other advice?
     
  19. Richard Peters macrumors regular

    Richard Peters

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Location:
    Surrey, UK
    #19
    Ok so now the new models are available, and ouch, I wasn't expecting the SSD for a Mac Pro to be THAT expensive :eek:

    So, here's my question now, and remember I'm not upgrading from a current MacPro or desktop, I have a MBP so this is a whole new system:

    In terms of photo editing AND 1080p video editing, would this be a good spec to go for...

    3.2 Quad
    3gb RAM
    Video card I'm not sure on so so I'd be looking at:

    £2319 with the standard 5770 card
    or
    £2489 with the 5870 card

    I can then upgrade to 8gb RAM and get a solid state & internal drives cheaper elsewhere?

    Would that be a good purchase for Photoshop use, After Effects and Premier Pro for (1080p) video editing, and if so with which graphics card?

    Open to any other options, ideally don't want to go the iMac route due to storage (although an i7 with SSD and separate 2tb HDD does seem 'cheap' now lol) but open to any suggestions if there is a better way to spend my money given the use it will get.
     

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